Thursday, August 14, 2008

fibroid shrinker goes to Hawaii -- part 3 -- eating: be prepared!

Exhausted from my wedding and all the preparations, and not having eaten satisfactorily for several days (more on that later), went immediately to Kauai, Hawaii for our honeymoon. I didn’t really have time to prepare, and once I got there realized I had overlooked an important aspect of getting ready for the trip – I hadn’t packed any food! And it turned out that eating in Hawaii was more difficult than I had expected.

I guess I’m just spoiled having a Whole Foods a short drive away, and all the places near my home I have been able to scout out that offer organic and hormone-free meats. In Kauai, I found a variety of difficulties, many of which probably apply to any kind of travel but some Hawaii-specific.

1. Local fish laden with mercury. One of the big pleasures for most visitors to Hawaii is enjoying the fresh local fish. However, a bit of research uncovered that most of the local fish in Hawaii have very high mercury levels, as they are large fish that swim in the deep ocean. These include Ahi, Ono, Opah, Mahi Mahi and Shutome (for more information, Google any of these names and the word "mercury". The only two local fish with low enough mercury levels for me were OpakaPaka (crimson snapper), and Kona Kampachi (farm-raised under controlled conditions).
2. Nobody has even heard of hormone-free meats. My husband dutifully asked at each restaurant if the meats were hormone-free; in most cases the response was complete puzzlement. Occasionally we would be told that the steak was hormone free. But even if it’s hormone free I’m not supposed to eating steak anyway! One day however I got so frustrated and felt so protein-deprived that I acted on a local’s tip that Kalapaki Beach Hut uses hormone free beef in its burgers and went there (it's not mentioned on the menu, but the person behind the counter confirmed the hormone-free status). Not that I should really be eating burgers but I had to do something.
3. Few vegetarian options. Between the local fish being off-limits and the meat not being hormone free, eating out was rather challenging. Particularly frustrating was that at the beginning of the trip, when we were in the southern part of the island which is more touristy, Steve had booked us at all the restaurants that sounded like romantic honeymoon destinations, such as Roy’s, Tidepools, and The Beach House. Which were big on steaks and local fish and would only have one or two obligatory vegetarian options, one of which typically had cheese and thus would not work for me. Roy’s had a mushroom dish that was good, and Tidepools had a nice tofu steak (I decided I would have to eat some tofu during this trip in order to get enough protein). But it’s very frustrating to look at an entire menu and only have one thing on it that you can order! Kind of ruins the celebratory honeymoon mood. So does feeling hungry all the time. And don't even ask about the luau we went to! Not much food for me there! I did find two excellent vegetarian restaurants that really worked for me: Blossoming Lotus and Postcards. (When I returned, my acupuncturist was excited to hear I had eaten at Blossoming Lotus, evidently it's famous and they have a cookbookthat I will put on my wishlist). Also in a couple of Asian restaurants I used calamari as my protein and that worked alright.
4. Chocolate lava cakes everywhere. It’s hard enough to avoid eating chocolate without having that particularly yummy treat, the chocolate cake with the warm gooey center, on literally every single menu. Seems like it’s obligatory in Hawaii to have a molten chocolate cake. And often other than that there were not many other dessert options, certainly very few fruit based ones that I could consider eating.
5. Eating on a hike or other outdoor trip. We went on several hikes by ourselves and also two day-long adventure excursions. Really there is not very much from this fibroid-shrinking diet that is easily packable and truly satisfying for a hike. (Wish someone would invent a lentil and rice based snack bar!) And one does feel like an oddball nibbling on rice cakes when the trip leaders break out the sandwiches, chips, soda, and cookie lunches and everyone else digs in with gusto. It’s also a big burden to be worrying about food and schlepping it. When I’m at home I can prepare something like a lentil pilaf to take myself but that’s hard to do when traveling.
6. Small health food stores. On the southern part of the Island where we were for most of the first week, there was virtually nothing health food wise – one store in Koloa Town that was closed with no note on the door explaining when they would open again, and a teeny poorly stocked one in Lihue called Vim and Vigor that I would not recommend. When we moved North the situation In Kapa`a and Hanalei there’s one called Papaya’s that’s good , in Kapa`a there was another one called Hoku Whole Foods and in Kilauea there is a Heathy Hut that I also liked (people who ran it particularly charming). Papaya’s had bulk food bins which included reasonably priced delicious local dried plums that I loved. I stocked up on lentils and rice and the days I ate that for breakfast I felt so much better.

One of the meals I enjoyed most on our trip was when another couple staying at the same bed and breakfast invited us to share a meal with them. She’s a dietician, and had bought quinoa and kale and some fish. I used the rest of my rice and some of the dried plums and cooked them together for a pilaf (yummy) and chopped up some of the tropical fruit we had been using as trail snacks to make a fruit salsa. Everyone else ate Ahi and Ono as their main dish but I was ok with just the sides.

I’m convinced that the way to go on a trip like this is to stay in a place that has a kitchen (like a rental cottage) and bring a bunch of basic ingredients from home and then stock up on vegetables after arriving. And be prepared to spend some time cooking – not necessarily what everyone wants to do on their vacation but it’s better than feeling hungry or being crabby every time one goes to a restaurant. Understanding will also be required from one’s travel companions on the time needed for cooking, and not eating out every meal.

I wish I had thought about it more before leaving. I will be sure to on my next vacation. Don't mean to be complaining about my honeymoon as it was lovely, but the food issue was certainly a challenge.

No comments: